PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — With the unmistakable tenor of the coronation of one of the sports bright young stars, the final day of the BASS Elite Series at Lake Champlain got under way Sunday.
Timmy Horton takes a near 10-pound lead into the grassy, largemouth filled flats to the south and with it a band of competitors seemingly resigned to cast for second-place.
Horton is looking for his first victory since a 2004 BASS Open and his first tour level win since 2000. Bundled for the last two legs of a four-day, 480-mile round trip, the Muscle Shoals, Ala., pro fretted briefly about back-up boat logistics and retrieved his sleepy wife and anxious father, who'd arrived late Saturday night, before settling into a go-with-the-flow attitude.
"You don't get too wound up about it," said Horton of the change of routine involved in Day Four. "I'm lucky that I've got a good lead and a little room for error. My main concern is just getting there and getting back. I think if I go in there and have fun things will fall into place."Fishing the Ticonderoga area, Horton says one of the big differences in his fish has been a rockpile where a ½ ounce Booyag football jig and Yum Craw Pappy trailer has been dynamite in imitating crayfish. Ravenous packs of bass have made the action fast early in the morning, making for early, solid limits.
It's an area I've been going to first because the fish have come so quick," said Horton. "I'm fishing a little deeper, I think, than most people."A second grassy area has been a virtual buffet table for chunky bass with alewives, a sardine-like baitfish, being the featured item. His biggest fish this week has come from flipping a thick grass mat with a Yum Vibra King Tube, a fish — 5-14 on his scale — he mistakenly overlooked on Day Two as in contention for the Purolator Big Bass prize, unintentionally relinquishing the $1,000 cash prize to Fred Roumbainis.
These areas and the fact that not one other fish in the tournament has approached six pounds — Lake Champlain has only Northern strain largemouths with a decidedly short growing season — has Horton confident and hopeful of an early day "If I can get 16 or 17 pounds early like I have been doing, I'll be back here by 10:30 looking for somebody to bring me a sandwich," Horton said.
Editor's note: Check in daily during the tournament for live video of the weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard at 3 p.m. ET Thursday through Saturday. ESPNOutdoors.com will air Hooked Up, the live Internet shows, on Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon ET on Sunday. The 45-minute Hooked Up show begins at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into the final live weigh-in and a realtime leaderboard at 3:45 p.m. ET.
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